6,182 congregations have disaffiliated from the United Methodist Church since 2019, according to data released by the denomination.
“Church law forbids the marriage or ordination of ‘self-avowed, practicing homosexuals,’ but many conservatives have chosen to leave amid a growing defiance of those bans in many US churches and conferences,” the Associated Press reported. The denomination is expected to formally approve same-sex marriage and the ordination of actively gay and lesbian pastors in 2024.
The United Methodist Church was formed in 1968 from the merger of two Methodist bodies. Before the disaffiliations, it was the second-largest Protestant denomination in the US, behind the Southern Baptist Convention.